by Joseph Purcell
‘I’m not running anymore,’ Jess Williamson boldly sings on the title track to her melancholic record, Sorceress. Throughout, she examines intensely personal subjects, zeroing in on her own faith, relationships and the concerns of ageing. All are dealt with in a beautifully understated, but authentically honest way. She emits an acceptance of her own struggles, displaying the confidence to harness such doubts and inspire her art.
Her vocal delivery is enchanting – flitting between the uplifting and the solemn, it is heavy with emotion. Smoke opens the record, above a delicate acoustic pattern, before taking flight into a rousing stomp of a pop gem. As The Birds Are is akin to the type of hauntingly picturesque music that Aldous Harding has so successfully explored in recent years.
At points, some tracks begin to feel like they merge into one, and this slightly distracts. However, the strength of the early part of the album, as well as standouts such as the title track, Rosaries at the Border, and Gulf of Mexico ensure that the overall experience of listening to the record is an enjoyable experience. The aforementioned title track is a heartfelt examination of relationship turmoil, as Williamson is delicately backed by shimmering birdsong and other assorted wildlife – accompanying Williamson’s haunting delivery, ‘May I remind you no ones keeping score……but I’m not trying to tame a lion, I want to be caressed’.
Sorceress is a record on which Jess Williamson really kicks on in both the maturity of her writing, and the beauty of her delivery. And despite some minor flaws, it would be hard to see it as anything other than the best record of her career to date.
Secret Meeting score: 80
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